Colchester United 0-1 Port Vale
Colchester United remain in grave danger of relinquishing their Sky Bet League Two status after slipping to defeat against Port Vale in what was a relegation six-pointer at the JobServe Community Stadium.
U’s went into the game without Callum Harriott and Kwame Poku – both away on international duty with Guyana and Ghana. The prestige of selection somewhat lost on the U’s, left short of two of their more influential players for such a huge match.
Opening exchanges were frantic and untidy, almost suggesting a ‘man the lifeboats’ approach from both sides. A calm head was required – Devante Rodney provided it, sending a crisp, right-footed strike high beyond Shamal George to give Vale the lead after Tom Conlon had fashioned an opening.
Theo Robinson forged George into a smart save as the Vale turned the screw. Colchester – nervy and a little punchdrunk – appearing short on ideas and confidence as the visitors probed menacingly.
With Frank Nouble left largely isolated, Colchester offered very little in the way of a threat. Noah Chilvers – the pick of the bunch for the home side during a torrid opening half – tested Scott Brown from distance as the U’s tentatively looked for a foothold.
Surprisingly, Chilvers, along with Miles Welch-Hayes was replaced at the interval by Courtney Senior and Junior Tchamadeu. Ryan Clampin drove wide as Colchester returned a little brighter.
Jevani Brown was unable to direct goalwards after Nouble had picked him out. Meanwhile, George stuck out a foot to good effect, diverting Conlon’s angled attempt away as Vale looked set to double their advantage.
Rodney hit the foot of an upright, then sent another strike into George’s gloves – Vale reasserting their earlier dominance. Colchester responded – Brown brilliantly saving from substitute, Aramide Oteh after Courtney Senior had scurried down the right and delivered.
Brown’s close-range attempt was deflected behind as Colchester desperately tried to salvage the situation.
But despite holding a seven-point advantage over the bottom two, the U’s have won once in twenty outings and have now failed to score in nearly eight hours of football.
Colchester United return to Sky Bet League Two action on Tuesday, March 23 when Tranmere Rovers visit the JobServe Community Stadium (7pm).
Colchester United: Shamal George, Miles Welch-Hayes (Junior Tchamadeu 46’), Tommy Smith, Harry Pell, Jevani Brown, Noah Chilvers (Courtney Senior 46’), Tom Eastman, Ryan Clampin, Brendan Sarpong-Wiredu, Ben Stevenson (Aramide Oteh 75’), Frank Nouble Subs not used: Dean Gerken (GK), Josh Doherty, Paris Cowan-Hall, Billy Cracknell
Booked: Frank Nouble (foul), Tom Eastman (foul)
Port Vale: Scott Brown, Luke Joyce, Leon Legge, Nathan Smith, David Worrall, Emmanuel Oyeleke, Tom Conlon, Christian Montano (Mustapha Olagunju 90+2’), Theo Robinson (David Amoo 79’), Shaun Brisley, Devante Rodney (Kurtis Guthrie 87’) Subs not used: Tom Scott, Scott Burgess, Jake Taylor, Mark Cullen
Booked: Emmanuel Oyeleke (foul), Christian Montano (foul), Luke Joyce (foul), Scott Brown (time-wasting)
Goals: Devante Rodney 19’
Referee: Robert Madley
Assistants: Damith Bandara and Conor Farrell
Fourth Official: Anthony Da Costa